Updated 22 March 2019
I strongly believe that it’s better to get all my nutrients from the raw, whole food that I eat but, let’s face it, it’s really hard to find fresh reiki mushrooms or organic ginseng leaves at a reasonable price these days.
As I pore through the research out there, below is a snapshot of the supplements I currently take each day, the ones I’m still reading up on, and the ones I’ve relegated to the bin for now. My Hong Kong oncologist is not a fan of supplementation but the team at the Mayo Clinic approved my list. I’ve read up on interactions and side effects and feel pretty confident with what I’m doing.
Let me know if there’s anything missing that I should look into!
Supplements I currently take
These are supplements I’ve researched such that I’m confident there won’t be a negative impact on my health.
Yes, it’s lots of pills, but all I can tell you is I haven’t had a sniffle or a cold sore since I was diagnosed with cancer. That includes the time I took 14 flights through 7 states plus overseas during 4 weeks of winter. Just sayin’…
- Beta Glucans
- Vitamin C -Immune booster and alternative purported cancer cure of legend. I took megadoses even when I didn’t have cancer since you just pee out what your body can’t absorb.
- Vitamin D3
- IP-6/ Inositol
- Cat’s Claw – Research has shown it can kill cancer cells in vitro and in mouse models though there have been no controlled, clinical trials in humans yet. [links]
- Boswellia – Boswellia reduces inflammation but also has some anti-cancer properties. It’s been shown to slow down the replication of cancer cells and caused cell death of some cancer cells in the laboratory although there have been no human studies [link] It’s pain-relieving properties come in handy since I avoid NSAIDs and acetaminophen these days.
- Oregano Extract – This is the only thing I don’t take regularly but I have a bottle in reserve in case I ever feel run down. It’s potent stuff.
Detox Organ Support
The medicines I take are known to damage the liver. Since my diagnosis doctors have discovered two lesions on my liver and a kidney cyst. These detox organs are working overtime and deserve all the support they can get.
- Silymarin (Milk Thistle Extract) – I take so many handfuls of pills each day but I actually feel like this one does something for me.
- Dandelion Root – Comes along with my silymarin supplement but I’ll take all the liver support I can get.
- Artichoke – Same as the dandelion root.
Did you know that one of the most common chemotherapies for breast cancer, taxol (later renamed paclitaxel), comes from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree? Just because it grows in nature doesn’t mean it’s not powerful stuff.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is the ultimate cancer-fighting herb. I try to eat it as much as I can but man, I’m so tired of the taste.
- Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake mushroom extract – I incorporate whole shiitake and maitake mushrooms into my diet once a week but the supplement makes sure I get a daily dose of these purported immune-boosting, cancer-fighting fungi of Eastern medicine.
- Turkey Tail Extract – Another Eastern medicine immune booster.
Polysaccharide K (PSK), a patented extract of the Turkey Tail mushroom, is the most commonly prescribed cancer treatment in Japan. It’s only just starting clinical trials in the US.
- Ginseng – Many reputable studies indicate ginseng can prevent cancer and improve quality of life for those who have it; also, one study showed it associated with reduced mortality for men (though not women)[links]
I subscribe to the metabolic theory of cancer and, even if you don’t, you can’t deny that the mitochondria of most cancer cells, including mine, are broken. I’d like to keep the healthy ones healthy and maybe heal the broken ones.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Oxaloacetic acid
- Gymnema sylvestre extract
- Fish Oil – I’ve always taken it. Why not keep at it? Honestly, I feel that keeping my omega3:6 ratio balanced is key to my health and the purported anti-inflammatory benefits are a plus.
- Multi-vitamin – Just to make sure I’m filling in all the gaps.
- Extra B-12 – I’ve had B-12 deficiency in the past so, given that B-12 is even harder to come by on my mostly-vegan diet, it makes sense. For the record, I’ve been tested and am not currently deficient.
- Extra Magnesium in Glycinate Form -Magnesium is an electrolyte which my body needs on my low carb diet with purported anti-anxiety benefits. It also helps keep me regular – fun fact for you!
- Barley grass
Supplements I Do Not Take:
Tried and put aside
I used to take these but have set them aside for one reason or another.
- Cranberry Capsules – I’m finishing my last bottle and don’t think I’ll get another. I get so much good nutrition from my diet and this just isn’t worth the carb count or cost.
- Essiac Tonic – A formula supposedly handed down through Ojibwa Indians containing burdock root, sheep sorrel and slippery elm. I just didn’t feel a lot of benefit for the cost, personally.
- Graviola/ Soursop – I took it for a bit as it has impressive anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and blood sugar lowering properties. Unfortunately, it can cause liver and kidney damage with repeated use so I’ve stopped taking it while I work to repair the damage Xalkori has done to my liver and kidneys. I still have the bottle and may pull it out down the road.
- Green Tea Extract – I had a bottle of this from long before my cancer diagnosis. I’d been taking the supplements off and on but have since learned that it can cause liver toxicity. These are now packed in a drawer and I’m not taking it. I do, however, continue to drink 2 cups of green tea a day.
- Iron – I’ve never eaten mammals, have had off-and-on anemia, and am a woman so iron supplements have always been a part of life. However, iron is a heavy metal and the ultimate oxidizer. It’s necessary to live but I’ve come across more and more studies of its potentially carcinogenic properties. Iron is off the list until I have a real deficiency and then I’ll only take chelated iron.
- NSAID Analgesics – No more aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen for me. Some of my reading indicates that they actually cause increased inflammation over time. Boswellia can manage low level pain.
Based on my research, I believe these would be harmful to my health or not worth the cost and therefore I am not taking them.
- Pau D’Arco Tea – Just not enough compelling evidence to make it worth the money.
- Laetrile/ Amygdalin – Ah, the old B17 controversy. If you haven’t heard about it before it’s worth reading up the history just for the story – so much intrigue and conspiracy theorizing. I mean, it’s cyanide so I totally believe it could kill cancer cells but I also believe it could kill healthy cells. There’s lots of controversial science-y explanations for why the cyanide is only activated in cancer cells but nothing legitimate enough for me. To be clear because there was some confusion after this post was published, this is on the list of supplements I am not taking because I believe them harmful.
In the Backlog to Research
People have made many suggestions on supplements I should take. I haven’t had a chance to fully research and make a decision on the following.
- Red Raspberry Capsules
- Aloe Vera – Some studies ave shown it can inhibit cancer cell growth but it can also cause liver toxicity
- Shark Cartilage
I’m sure this list will be refined and maybe someday I’ll flesh out the citations and it can serve as a guide for others.